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Want your staff to be happy? Here are the four components of happiness

November 25, 2010

There’s been a lot of talk about happiness and general well-being of late.  Here we explore the four components of happiness and ask if busy executives can ever achieve a happy state.

Workplace Happiness Cartoon

Unfortunately this is not an option in the real world

Since becoming the Conservative leader David Cameron has argued that we should be monitoring GWB (General Well Being) alongside GDP (Gross Domestic Product).  This is an idea possibly inspired by the Kingdom of Bhutan’s GNH measure (Gross National Happiness), but Bhutan isn’t facing huge state spending cuts and bailing out neighbouring countries.

It’s not easy being happy in 24/7 twenty-first century Britain, even with a Royal Wedding to look forward to.  Many believe true happiness can only come to those fortunate few who win record lottery jackpots or sell old Chinese vases for £53 million.  The rest of the population is too busy working or paying down our own debts to be happy.

In fact research into lottery winners’ well-being suggests that a year after their win lotto winners return to their pre-win state of happiness, or even depression.

In his  excellent book Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh identifies four factors that influence our state of happiness.  None of these is money; Hsieh knows this from experience having sold his first business to Microsoft for $290 million and another company Zappos last year to Amazon for $807 Million.

According to Tony Hsieh, the four components  of happiness are:

  1. Feeling CONNECTED to a group of close friends and colleagues
  2. Having CONTROL over work and life
  3. Making PROGRESS towards goals, whether they be career, knowledge or fitness
  4. Having a clear sense of PURPOSE in life and work.

Deficits in any of these four areas are likely to bring us down.  As the corporate world demands more from its people for purposes far removed from individual goals there’s a real and present danger of making those valuable human assets miserable, demotivated and unproductive.  Possibly so much that they’ll leave for smaller employers, able to offer the above.

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